As we approach the start of the season, I would like to address the importance of personnel versatility on offense, and how it can cause trouble for opposing defensive coordinators.
This offseason, GM Brandon Beane made an effort to add a few new elements to the offense that we did not have last season. OJ Howard for example, is an athletic TE2, which we simply have lacked in years past. James Cook is a true pass-catching threat out of the backfield, another area which has been lacking. This was clearly a priority for Beane, as they (for about an hour) signed JD McKissic and, later, Duke Johnson. Johnson, McKissic, and Cook all provide a similar element to the offense.
Why Personnel Versatility Matters
I believe that Beane was building an offense that can become more versatile. To start, having two athletic TEs, two WRs, and a RB that doubles as a receiving threat on the field in 12-personnel will put a defensive coordinator in a bind before the play begins. Traditionally, 12-personnel is geared more towards running the ball. When all eligible receivers on the field are capable of running and blocking effectively, the defense has to make a decision on how to approach the play beforehand.
This is where the value of personnel versatility lies. New offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has a plethora of weapons that can be deployed in a multitude of ways. The biggest advantage is the ability to manufacture mismatches on the field. For instance, if you can come away from a play with James Cook lined up against a linebacker, that would be a successful use of resources from the OC’s perspective. (Execution, however, is a whole other can of worms.) Ideally, manufacturing mismatches on the field will help the offense’s efficiency, even if the OC transition has a rocky start (which is very possible).
Versatility should also help in the run game. The ability to come out in 13-personnel with Gabe Davis (our best blocking WR), Reggie Gilliam, OJ Howard, Dawson Knox, and James Cook leaves a ton of options on the table. The priority should be to pass the ball. But, if you catch a team consistently inviting the run against a heavier package, you should make them pay. Speaking of heavy packages, having a QB that can run at an elite level also places stress on a defense. Having to respect Josh’s ability to scoot scoot is nearly one more layer added onto the Bills offense.
All in all, Beane and Co. have done a phenomenal job constructing this offense. Suffice to say, the sky’s the limit for this Bills offense. Once they find their groove, the Bills should have no one to beat but themselves.
Featured Image: Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat & Chronicle